4 New Orleans Saints who have to step up versus Patriots in Week 3
By Kristen Wong
4. New Orleans Saints offensive lineman Cesar Ruiz
We still have no idea if the Saints’ offensive line is any good this season.
Against the Packers, the O-line protected Jameis Winston better than Kevin Costner did for Whitney Houston. Against Carolina, the O-line was ripped apart faster than you could say “Uh oh, this doesn’t look good.” Winston was sacked four times and threw a pair of interceptions that game, and if the Saints want more consistent production from their starting QB, they will have to toughen up. We’re thinking beef jerky, not string cheese.
Erik McCoy was recently ruled out for Week 3, so Cesar Ruiz will start at center again.
Many questioned the Saints’ decision to take Ruiz in the first round of the 2020 Draft. They already had Erik McCoy holding down the center position, and picking another center so early in the draft seemed like a waste.
Oh, how they would eat their words. Ruiz adjusted to playing guard last season, but he’s played center for the majority of his collegiate career. Against the Patriots, he’ll be back at his original position, and we hope his muscle memory is stronger than ever.
Ruiz filled in without a hitch when McCoy exited the Packers game, and the Saints’ O-line looked great. When Ruiz started against Caroline, and the O-line wilted.
It’s still too small of a sample size to tell if McCoy poses as the strong link or the crippling weakness on the front line, but needless to say, he needs to play a big game in Week 3.
New England will hit him with a blitz-heavy defensive scheme consisting of some of the best pass-rushers in the league: Matt Judon, Josh Uche, Chase Winovich.
Ruiz is honestly the last hope they have, at the center role anyway. The team parted ways with Nick Easton this offseason, and Will Clapp is on injured reserve. The Saints have Austin Reiter just in case, but he has no experience with New Orleans’ defense.
This game may very well be decided in trenches, and Ruiz will either be the last man standing or the first to fall. We hope it’s the former.